Angry Summers with Regulate
Frontman Sebastian Paba talks localism, taming rage, and dropping N-bombs
Regulate is a young, aggressive hardcore band from Long Island, New York, that sounds like a young, aggressive hardcore band from Long Island, New York. And yet, people have found themselves explaining the margins of what makes this newer band so special. I was asleep in a van the first time someone played the band’s newest effort, an EP titled Years of Rage (Edgewood Records, 2016), around me. It was a sit up straight “come to Jesus” moment, and it comes from the unhinged trebly rage put forward by vocalist Sebastian Paba. He’s the sort of frontman and this is the sort of band, where you simply want to know what their problem is. We spoke about the record, writing for yourself, localism, and more.
Mass Appeal: How did you guys come together, with localism running so deep in hardcore? Do you feel that being from Long Island/Jersey Shore is intrinsic to what your band is?
Sebastian Paba: We all know each other from going to shows. I was on tour with our drummer and old guitarist’s old band and we decided to start a band when we got home. I hit up two friends I knew would be down and we got it goin’. Since then we’ve had two member changes, one being Botti from the Shore joining. I definitely think where we’re from is just as much a part of the band as anything else. We take incredible pride in where we’re from and we want everyone to know it.
Where did you get your vocal style from? The pacing and intonation is unique, even when the ideas are familiar. Do you work out the pacing of a song with the band as they’re writing music? Or do they come to you with whole songs?
H.R, Ant Money from E.town Concrete, and Michael Jackson are the biggest influences I have as a vocalist even if you can’t hear it. Everything comes to me as the rest of the guys are writing music. Most of my lyrics are written during practice. They tell me when things sound rushed or too wordy but for the most part everything vocally is me.
What makes you guys want to be the band you are? What are some of your unexpected influences?
When we first started we just wanted to play shows. While that’s still what we love to do the most there’s more to it now. I put a lot of pressure on myself and the rest of the band to represent where we’re from. All the best hardcore bands are from New York and I wanna keep that goin’. I want people to think of New York when they listen to us. As far as unexpected influences go I don’t know if I can say we have any that are really out there. I can say that we’ve already been talking about the next release and what weird things we wanna do for it and those things are definitely pulled from unexpected places.
How did this EP come together?
We were playin’ more and more shows and we knew the next step was to put out a record. We had it all written and talked to maybe two people about doing it before we decided on Dean from Wild Arctic. We went up to New Hampshire or maybe Maine–I really don’t remember–for a weekend and busted it out at Dean’s house. He was great to work with. I really feel like workin’ with him helped us as a band moving forward. We had a couple options in terms of who we wanted to put the record out with. I’m happy we went with our friends from Edgewood Records. They’re doin’ a lot of cool shit right now.
Your lyrics run the gamut from substance abuse to race and rage. Anger is a big part of hardcore, whether people touch on it or not and you confront your feelings very openly in certain ways. What is your relationship with anger like? How has it changed over the years?
I’m a laid back dude. A lot of things annoy me but, I’d like to think it takes a lot to actually make me angry. You might get a different answer for that depending on who you ask [haha]. I think anger and aggression and hostility are good. There’s more of that stuff in the world than there is love and compassion and happiness so why suppress it? I wrote the song “End Action” in the summer of 2013 when I was goin’ through some changes I guess you could say. To sum it up that summer was a really violent and sketchy time in my life. Lots of anger that summer. Perpetual anger that turned into a lot of impulsive actions. I’m chillin’ now, but like anyone else, I got things that set me off. I try to think before I act now.
On “Antispectrum,” you talk about your life experience being pigeonholed in different situations for different reasons. At the end you add in the line, “Don’t ever think I’ll let some shit go over my head.” How do you feel about people singing along with your words, when they’re so personal, and especially when you use language personal to your experience, like the N word?
I wouldn’t write the lyrics I write if I cared about people singing along. Everything I write is for myself. I’ll never write or not write a single line because of how anyone but myself will feel about it. I, sometimes very reluctantly, take criticisms from the band with stuff like that, but that’s as far as that goes. You’re not gonna relate to every song you hear or be deeply emotionally invested in every line you sing along to and that’s alright. As far as people singing along when I say “n*gga” it doesn’t bother me, which I guess is kinda weird ’cause if I was in a room with mostly white dudes sayin’ “n*gga,” I’d feel much differently about it. Like I said, everything I write is for Sebastian, if you can relate that’s cool if not that’s cool too.
What do you feel is the place of straight edge in 2016, now that there’s a few generations of history behind it? How do you interact with straight edge as opposed to a few years ago? Does the band make it more of a part of your life than it would be?
From what I’ve heard from older dudes, straight edge seems to be more accepted now than it was in the ’80s and ’90s. It’ll be 8 years for me in February of 2017. I guess I see it a little differently than when I was younger but the main idea hasn’t changed–for myself and no one else. I don’t think I’d be any more or less edge without the band. I like being able to write songs and express how I feel about straight edge though. I’m thankful for that.
What are your summer tour plans, and do y’all have other projects–bands or otherwise? What do you get up to outside of hardcore?
We’re doin’ a full US [tour] with Blind Justice this month. That’s pretty crazy to think about cause we never thought we’d play outside of New York. Botti sings in Blind Justice and he plays in a band called Krust, too. Him and I are tryin’ to start up another band. Harry and I play hockey together. Besides hockey and the band I don’t really do much, now that the semester’s over. I go to SVA for Film. Shit kinda sucks.